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Energetic, Enthusiastic Lashbrook Lands in Las Vegas

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 08/17/17, 10:55AM EDT


20-plus year career has brought unique perspective for LV Pro Soccer’s leader

Photo courtesy Jim Oberg / Las Vegas Pro Soccer

LAS VEGAS – As Brett Lashbrook stood on stage at the Zappos Theater last Friday afternoon, now officially the leader of Las Vegas’ 2018 USL expansion club, it marked another major landing point in a journey that began more than 20 years ago.

“When professional soccer after the ’94 World Cup was coming to my then hometown of Kansas City, I immediately reached out and said I wanted to be involved,” Lashbrook recalled. “I started interning, I started volunteering.

“That really led to a 20-plus year career that took me from the FIFA Women’s World Cup to the Olympics to the Major League Soccer office, to Orlando City as a USL team as it transitioned to Major League Soccer, and now here, with the good fortune of my family to go to the other side of the table and become an investor and own a professional soccer team in the United States.”

The energy Lashbrook still brings to a room was clear throughout Friday’s presentation ceremony, as was the passion he has for a sport that has meant much to him personally and professionally. That enthusiasm has rubbed off on those who’ve been integral to the process of bringing a second USL Team to Nevada.

 “I love Brett’s enthusiasm, and what he’s going to bring to this franchise and what he’s going to bring to the city,” said Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval at Friday’s announcement.

Photo courtesy Jim Oberg / Las Vegas Pro Soccer

Lashbrook’s path through American soccer gives him a unique perspective, and one that will stand the organization in good stead as it builds toward its debut next March at Cashman Field. With experience at all levels, and in both club and international situations, the Las Vegas resident has seen about everything, most particularly the manner the sport has grown since the days of the Kansas City Wiz in 1996.

That’s a big reason why Lashbrook is excited to bring professional soccer to his family’s adopted home. After his parents moved to the Entertainment Capital of the World two decades ago, Lashbrook headed west two years ago and soon began the pursuit of a feat others had tried to pull off previously in bringing professional soccer to Las Vegas.

“This is long overdue for the city,” said Lashbrook. “The city has been pursuing professional soccer in various forms for over a decade now. We’re the second-largest market in the United States without a professional soccer team. When you look at the diversity in the population-base of Las Vegas, it’s just a perfect match for what the demographics of soccer are in America. That’s a young average age that is incredibly diverse and playing the game in record numbers, and we have all of that right here.”

The team also has an ideal downtown location in Cashman Field, with the 10,000-seat venue sitting at the heart of the Las Vegas you might not think of when you picture the city initially. With the work and investment being put into the downtown core away from the flashing lights of the Las Vegas Strip, the area surrounding Cashman Field has produced a place the 2.2 million residents of the city can live, work and play.

“The stadium is so important in where it’s located, because it can create an authentic soccer experience,” said Lashbrook of the home the club will share with baseball club the Las Vegas 51s. “No pun intended, I think we’ve hit it out of the park on both of those. We have a 10,000-seat stadium in the heart of downtown Las Vegas that is perfectly sized for a 120x80 FIFA-regulation field that has seats on three sides.

“It’s within walking distance from bars, casinos, restaurants, nightlife, music. When you talk about the March to the Match, when you talk about the millennial, young professional demographic craving an event out of a soccer game, there is no better place than right here in downtown Las Vegas, and there’s no better place than Cashman Field.”

Photo courtesy Jim Oberg / Las Vegas Pro Soccer

And when people arrive at Cashman Stadium next March, Lashbrook wants to ensure they get the sort experience that more and more clubs across the USL are giving their fans.

“The game has evolved in this country to really embracing the rest of the world,” he said. “What’s so important, and what we’re committed to doing here is creating a soccer-authentic experience. The drums, the smoke bombs, the flags, the tifos, the marching, the cheers.”

When that first home game arrives, with in-state rival Reno 1868 FC almost certainly set to be the foe, Lashbrook’s vision that began at a coffee social with Las Vegas Councilman Ricki Barlow will be well on its way. With the next step of naming the club and building an organization now underway, the road seems wide open as to what’s ahead.

“It’s the culmination of a lifelong dream, and the real work starts today,” said Lashbrook. “I’m just incredibly fortunate for the experiences that I’ve had, and to be able partner with my family on an investment of this magnitude, and to put all that together.

“Las Vegas is our adopted city. This is where we’re retiring, this is where we’ve been for decades, and this is where we want to be. To be able to merge my family, our new home, the sport of soccer and my history in it all together, it’s just an incredible opportunity.”

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